Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Review: QTBunns Trainers

We ordered these directly from QTBunns. I purchased a "size small" with a really cute road sign print. A variety of sizes and prints are available, as well as customs.



Materials: Inner and outer flannel, a hidden layer of PUL, and several layers of terry for absorbency. These are serged along the edges, rather than having foldover elastic or some other binding.


Closures: No snaps here. The waist and legs have a bit of stretch to them, but overall are very soft.

Sizing: We ordered a small, which the sizing says, THIS IS FOR SIZE SMALL ALL-IN-ONE TRAINERS AND FITS 27-31 LBS. WAIST FITS 15-24", LEG OPENING FITS 12-17."

Acorn is about 29 lbs, and mostly wears size 2T clothes - he can wear most 18 month pants, but they're too short, and he can wear 3Ts but they're too long.

They fit really well - not too tight, not too loose, and they go on and off really easily.

Absorbency: In the soak test (which you can read details of in a previous review), these may be my favorite. The flannel inner sucks the water right in, though the last little bit ran out the legs. The water didn't wick up the front or back at all, so I'm thinking it could have held a bit more in a second application.

Drying: These are not the fastest drying, but they're not the slowest either. They dry better inside out.

Final thoughts: These were among the least expensive we bought, at $9.50. We haven't had a single leak. I didn't think I'd like the serged edges, but they seem to work just fine. I really like the soft flannel, and if these had snaps, they'd be my go-to trainer. 

Disclaimer: these trainers were bought by me, and this review is my personal opinion of them. No compensation was provided.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sorry for the lag...

Yeah, I know I'm behind here, not posting much recently.

It's been busy :)

Acorn was sick - 3 doctor visits in 10 days, lots of extra oxygen, a chest x-ray, fevers reaching 104°....and then it was done, and things are slowly getting back to normal.

Acorn finally re-started OT, and so there's a new therapist who I think will do just fine. He also got a new PT, because the other one got promoted. We all think the new one is an improvement over the old one anyway.

We had a new nurse this month, she lasted 3 shifts before I fired her, and her 4th shift sealed the deal - any nurse who tells me, as my kid is coughing and sputtering, that she isn't comfortable suctioning in a moving car, and could I please pull over, is just not going to work. Frankly, if I have to pull over for her to suction, I could just do it myself.

We were supposed to be going to Pagan Pride Day, but it got rescheduled. Whether or not Acorn goes is now up in the air, because we'd arranged for no nursing that day on purpose - can't very well drag our very Christian nurses to a Pagan festival. He can probably go for part of it, though, because we usually don't have nursing all day on Saturdays.

We went to a powwow. I miss vending at events like this, but it's just not been feasible to this point. Maybe next year...or maybe I'll just get my butt in gear and get into a couple galleries instead. I'm still torn on that point, and on how I'd set up a booth these days if I had one, much less how I'd keep Acorn from wandering off.

We're also building out an Xtracycle - a cargo bike, which we're putting a child seat on for Acorn. First bike ride coming soon, we hope, and there will be a whole post on the bike building.

Potty training took a back seat to illness, but more review posts are coming too.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Review: Bummis Trainers

We got these trainers from Bummis, and purchased them locally at No Pins Required, our favorite (and really, our only, local brick and mortar diaper shop). I purchased a "size medium" in the classic Bummis jungle print - we've had 2 covers in 2 different sizes in the same print. A variety of sizes are available; I've only found these in white and the jungle print.



Materials: The outside is the typical Bummis knit. There's a hidden layer of PUL throughout the trainer. There's a flannel liner inside to help kids feel that they're wet. There are also 3 layers of terry in through the wet zone, which should be enough to contain a fairly substantial amount of urine.

Closures: I wish they had snaps - the longer we do this, the bigger deal the snaps become. The elastic is stretchy, but makes the rest of the trainer look a little poofy.

Sizing: Acorn is about 29 lbs, and mostly wears size 2T clothes - he can wear most 18 month pants, but they're too short, and he can wear 3Ts but they're too long.
 
We purchased a medium. They *look* huge. The sizing chart says SMALL: 9-14 kg (20-30 lbs), MEDIUM: 14-18 kg (30-40 lbs), LARGE: 18+ kg (40+ lbs). I looked at the size small, but in comparison to the medium, they are not really much smaller at all, and I wanted these to last for a bit. The poofy look kind of goes with the way they fit too - they seem poofy around the bottom, and I'm not really sure these would work well under clothes.

Absorbency: These were among the fastest to wick up the front and back of the wet zone, all the way up to the waist band. There was a bit of puddling at the leg openings, but it didn't run out the legs; it soaked in. That said, these trainers definitely won't hold more than 2 oz.

Drying: These are consistently one of the first dry, and I've never had a problem with them coming out of the dryer wet.


Final thoughts: These are ok. I think the lack of snaps makes this somewhat disappointing for us.

Disclaimer: these trainers were bought by me, and this review is my personal opinion of them. No compensation was provided.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

it's the little details

A funny thing happened on my way home from work last night. I almost stopped my car to talk to a total stranger - but I didn't, figuring it'd seem a bit odd, and besides, I was running late to get home to Acorn, who's been fighting of a summer stomach virus that is now settling in his lungs (yes, my kid is talented - no 3 days of fever with no other symptoms for him, no siree!)

I work at a Fortune 500 company as an engineer. The company's engineering & research campus is across the street from a museum complex that bears the name of the founder of the company; the development and testing areas are also on that side of the street, with a narrow winding road and a tall brick fence separating test facilities from museum. It's a popular place - there are both indoor and outdoor exhibits, and a lot of history can be found there.

Some days, I take that winding road over to the highway to get me home (though not the rest of this week - there's a big event closing down surface streets between here and there this next weekend, so it's the interstate for me). Yesterday was one of those days.

Driving up to the stop sign where tourists cross to one of the parking lots, I saw a woman pushing what looked like a really strange stroller. Getting a little closer, I was really struggling to grasp what it was she was pushing - too tall and bulky for most strollers, but there was a pink hat at the top there... and then suddenly the image snapped into focus:

I saw the ventilator tubing.

It suddenly all made sense - a specialty wheel chair, with tilt-in-space seating, with a plethora of medical equipment attached behind the seat and below it, and a girl in it, most of her covered with a pink blanket.

Funny how the details are sometimes the thing we recognize first.

We see so few other families with trach kids, much less with ventilators, that I was sorely tempted to roll down the window and say hi...

...but I think the police car behind me would have been upset about me blocking traffic.

Monday, August 16, 2010

it's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game

I was chatting with a friend of mine last night who happens to have a child who used to have a trach. She made a comment to the effect of, "oh, our story is so ordinary compared to some people's"

Ordinary.

That's right. She thinks of herself as an ordinary parent, with an ordinary kid, who just happened to have this little issue - it doesn't make her special, because it just was the way it was, and there was nothing else to do but keep walking.

And that's the thing. I think most of us special needs parents feel the same way - we're not something special, these children aren't given to us just because we're supermoms and superdads...they're given to us because they're children, and we are their parents.

The funny thing is, when she said all that, I stopped short. Because I think of her story as amazing, and I wonder all the time how she managed to make it all work out. I think that about a lot of the people we know - and while I could list them all here, I'd rather not, because these are their stories to tell:

Yes, Acorn has a trach...
but he'll eventually get it out, unlike many children.

Yes, Acorn came home with a ventilator...
but he isn't now, and we know people who will always need theirs.

Yes, Acorn's lungs weren't developed well enough to support his body...
but that's a problem that growing is fixing.
he's never had problems with his vocal cords
or needed surgery to reconstruct his trachea to keep it from collapsing
or needed surgery to move his facial bones around to make breathing on his own more managageable

Yes, Acorn has (had?) pulomonary hypertension...
but he never needed more medication than Viagra - the next step up is thousands of dollars a month
and he's never needed a catheterization to check for pressures

Yes, Acorn had holes in his heart - a PDA (which was closed surgically), and an ASD (which healed), and a VSD (which is minor and intermittent these days)...
but about 1 in 100 babies - maybe more - is also born with a congential heart defect,
and some of them die before anyone knows it's there
and others need multiple surgeries to get things working properly

Yes, Acorn was 100% g-tube fed for a while there...
but now he eats.
and drinks - from a bottle and a sippy cup
and will eventually not need his feeding tube

Yes, Acorn is a bit iffy about some textures and sounds, and yes, there are some SPD issues in our family that he might have inherited...
but he walks on grass
and eats tomatoes, in all their "mixed texture" goodness
and manages just fine in large crowds
and looks people in the eye, and interacts with them approrpriately

Yes, we're expecting a report from some tests that will tell us that Acorn has very mild Cerebral Palsy (which we've all suspected for months)...
but he walks
and runs
and colors (with both hands, if you push him)
and moves his tongue around in ways that make all his doctors and therapists believe that there's no reason to think he won't talk

Yes, Acorn spent a long time in the hospital...
but he came home.

I don't think, in the grand scheme of things, that we've had such a bad run of it. In the small picture, sure, there are points where I've been amazingly stressed and amazingly sad...but I think that's "ordinary" when you're a parent.

We're all ordinary people, and us special needs parents, no matter what the special need, are thrown into extraordinary circumstances. Each of us has a unique journey, but that doesn't mean we're alone. Special needs parenting isn't about numbers, it's about each of our individual children and their individual needs, and us parents keeping our sanity while we're walking this path.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Living in a multi-cultural world

Today is, for most Muslims, the first day of Ramadan, the lunar month wherein one fasts (no eating, drinking, or sex) during daylight hours. Coworkers of mine will be leaving shortly for the meditation room for their 1 pm prayer, and I'm really thankful to work in a place that allows such a thing without much comment.

I first heard of Ramadan as a child - maybe 8 or 9 - I was suffering that mental illness common to young girls, where horses are the only thing they can think of, and I was eating up every horse related book in the library, including "The Black Stallion." At the time, I think I knew that there were people in the world who were not Christian...but I'm not sure I'd ever met any in our small rural midwestern town. Baptists were exotic, as far as we were concerned, with their church and the Methodist church out on the edge of town - my dad wasn't convinced that going to the Baptist vacation Bible school wasn't a direct road to hell.

Acorn is growing up in a much different place. Detroit has one of the largest Muslim populations in the western world, and the suburb we live in has touted that it is among the most diverse cities in the US, having something like 46 different ethnic groups represented in its borders. Even our neighborhood has people of all different races and cultures of origin - I can count at least 6 just on our two-block-long street. His doctors even represent this diversity.

Not having grown up in such a diverse place, it's hard to know what to tell Acorn. Knowing that we're a minority, religion wise, in the midst of all this is even more complex.

But for today, I'll just stick with telling my Muslim friends - no matter where they're from - to have a blessed Ramadan, and to enjoy their feast tonight, and to continue to point out to Acorn all the different kinds of people we know, and yet how they're all still wonderful people - different colors, different ways of dressing, different ways of speaking, different genders, different family structures, cognitive and physical differences too.

Explaining why some of these things make people uncomfortable can wait for Acorn to be a little older.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Review: Antsy Pants Trainers/Pull Up Diapers

We ordered these directly from Antsy Pants. I purchased a 2T size, with one insert. A variety of sizes and solid colors are available, but most of the packages can only be ordered in boy, girl, or gender neutral colors.

Antsy Pants - red, with black sides


Materials: Their website says, "The main diaper shell is polyurethane laminate (PUL) backing a soft polyester knit fabric. The absorbent pocket layers are made from cotton/polyester sherpa. The lining is a performance wicking material that forces moisture through the fabric into the absorbent layers, and the side panels are cotton broadcloth. We use Lastin at the leg openings; all other elastics contain natural rubber."  They do mention a cotton velour/bamboo liner version, but we didn't get that to try.

I did have some concerns with the materials - the synthetic "performance" layer against the skin in particular, which lets the child feel wetness for some amount of time before wicking it away. It doesn't *feel* like microfiber....but they also state in the FAQ on their site that in their testing, if you change diapers every 2 hours you won't have diaper rash. Since our intent with them is to use them as trainers, I fully intend for Alexander to be able to wear them more than 2 hours without going in them...so far, no rashes, but it does make me wonder.


Closures: These have snaps. The sizes are strictly elastic, which seems a bit odd at first, but works out well for ol and off - these are a lot like the more common disposable pull-up style trainers


Sizing: Acorn is about 29 lbs, and mostly wears size 2T clothes - he can wear most 18 month pants, but they're too short, and he can wear 3Ts but they're too long.

We ordered a size 2T, and it fits pretty well, with room to spare.


I'm not super fond of the fit overall though - there is no shaping at all between the legs. It's a rectangle of fabric running from front to back with stretchy on the sides. It looks funky, since it's proportionally narrower in front/back than I'd expect, and wider thru the crotch than I'd expect.  So far, this hasn't resulted in leaks, so it may just be that it's different, not necessarily good or bad.

Absorbency: My standard absorbency test goes like this:  A toddler/premium prefold (our typical diaper, 4x8x4 layers of twill) and a flat (a typical Little Lions birdseye weave, 27"x27") both easily hold 4 oz of fluid. They're really soaked at that point, all the way up the front and back, but not dripping - so that's at least 2 pees, maybe 3. Knowing that trainers are meant to hold one pee, I've been testing all of them by slowly pouring 2 oz of water in towards the front of a clean, freshly washed, dry trainer. Acorn has a hypospadius, so his urine doesn't come out quite where it should (yet), but this should be pretty close to right in between where a girl or a boy would go. Most are tested after the first wash, though I'll probably test some of them a second time if it's something we're expecting to improve over time.

This is one area where Antsy Pants really do shine through and live up to what sounds like a lot of hype on their website - I actually did pour 4 ounces of water into this one, without any additional stuffing. While it didn't wick up the insides like I have seen some of our other trainers do, it held every last drop, with no drips.

The water pooled on the surface of the liner, and then after a moment, was almost magically sucked in. With 4 ounces in there, I carried it to the dryer without any drips on the floor, rang it out (getting probably half the water back out), and tossed it in to dry.

These cand be purchased with an additional stuffer for night time use. I have to say I doubt we'll ever use it, even though we bought one - it just doesn't seem to fit in the pocket in any reasonable way, even after following all the directions. the stuffer is a microfiber towel that you have to fold, which then goes into their funky pocket  It's hard to explain, and I've been unsuccessful at getting photos, but there's 2 layers of fleece, plus the layer against the skin, and it's sewn in a really strange way that I, as a fairly accomplished sewer, just find baffling. One layer of fleece is sewn down, the other is sewn to the synthetic layer against the skin, and the stuffing goes in between the two fleece layers. The pocket opening for stuffing runs the entire length of the wet zone, and I have yet to figure out (even with 8 pages of instructions) how to get the stuffer folded and stuffed in there without touching sensitive bottoms.

Drying: All in all it dries well, as long as it's not snapped up when you're drying it - drying with diapers, it comes out dry at the end of the cycle. The odd construction must help with the drying somehow. Like most training pants, it has a tendency to not get quite dry if it's a smaller load in the dryer, or if the drying time is a big shorter.

Final thoughts: This is the only article of clothing I've ever bought that came with an 8 page instruction manual. The fact that it's a diaper with an instruction manual just adds to the oddness of this.

These also took the longest to arrive - they arrived after the package from Alaska, and after the package from Canada (which had to go through customs!), both of which were ordered the same day as these. 

These were the most expensive trainers or diapers we've ever bought, at $27 each. Buying them in bundles, you can get the cost down to about $21-$22 each. I have to admit, we're cheap - that's one reasons we have stuck with mostly prefolds, and one reason we've mostly bought used diapers. Finding any trainers used has been a real challenge.

I suppose if you're fond of sized diapers, or have several younger children to grow into them, it might be worth that price, but I'm not entirely convinced - though the absorbency may be worth it if you're having a lot of misses, or if you have an older child with bedwetting episodes. You'd have to have a fair amount of cash to invest to just get these.

For all their oddness, I like them, I'm just not sure I like them enough for the price.



Disclaimer: these trainers were bought by me, and this review is my personal opinion of them. No compensation was provided.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Review: Bluberry Trainers

We got these cute trainers from BlueBerry, and purchased them locally at No Pins Required, our favorite (and really, our only local brick and mortar diaper shop). I purchased a "size medium" in a green with brown leg/waist edging. A variety of sizes and 5 plain colors are available.


Blueberry trainer, green with brown edges
This is our BlueBerry trainer - see the water up there in the upper right?

Materials: These have an inner lining of cotton velour, a hidden layer of super-absorbent microterry and a hidden layer of PUL. The outside seems to be some sort of knit. The insides are super soft and cushy.

Closures: I wish they had snaps, just in case of serious messes, but we're hoping not to have too many of those. These seem somewhat less stretchy than some others. The waistband and leg bands are nice and soft.

Sizing: Acorn is about 29 lbs, and mostly wears size 2T clothes - he can wear most 18 month pants, but they're too short, and he can wear 3Ts but they're too long. As you can see, he's not super skinny or super chubby, he's pretty proportional overall:


Acorn, standing in the livingroom
Diaper and t-shirt: standard toddler attire at our house

The sizing chart says Small (22-30 lb), Medium (25-35 lb), Large (32-42 lb), so we purchased a medium

These are really tighter than I'd expected, given the sizing. They're not bad, and they'd be super trim under pants, but they're a little difficult for him to get up and down (and we're just learning that too, so it's a challenge all around).

Absorbency: My standard absorbency test goes like this:  A toddler/premium prefold (our typical diaper, 4x8x4 layers of twill) and a flat (a typical Little Lions birdseye weave, 27"x27") both easily hold 4 oz of fluid. They're really soaked at that point, all the way up the front and back, but not dripping - so that's at least 2 pees, maybe 3. Knowing that trainers are meant to hold one pee, I've been testing all of them by slowly pouring 2 oz of water in towards the front of a clean, freshly washed, dry trainer. Acorn has a hypospadius, so his urine doesn't come out quite where it should (yet), but this should be pretty close to right in between where a girl or a boy would go. Most are tested after the first wash, though I'll probably test some of them a second time if it's something we're expecting to improve over time.

How did our BlueBerry do? Well....at about one ounce of water, it started puddling in the crotch area. It then ran off the sides and wicked up the leg bands. It also takes a looooong time for the water to soak up the front and back. In future reviews, I'll mention it, but just about everything else we've tested so far has quickly wicked up the rest of the soaker, spreading the wetness through the entire soaker area. This one took a good 10-15 minutes to soak into the rest of the soaker, and since it wask wicking around the leg bands and across the outside at the same time, the entire front of the trainer was soaked.

In fact, one morning this week, Acorn went in the potty, we put this trainer on, and within a half hour, the outside was completely soaked - he'd gone again (obviously not a full pee, since he'd just gone), and it had wicked across the leg openings and then out across the front of the trainers. By then they'd been washed at least a half dozen times, so it's not an issue of prepping something.

Drying: These are pretty good. Turned inside out, they dry with the regular diapers and are dry at the end of the cycle. The weather here has been too humid for line drying.

Final thoughts: I want to like these - the always helpful Emily at No Pins Required said most of her customers love them (if you're local, you should stop in her shop, and if not, you should check out her website, linked earlier in the post). They'd be great in a few months when Acorn is a little more accomplished at going on the potty, and this fall when it's cold and he has to actually wear pants, but right now....not so much.

Disclaimer: these trainers were bought by me, and this review is my personal opinion of them based on our usage of them. No compensation was provided.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Training Pants reviews coming soon!

I'm planning to get my first review of trainers up tomorrow. I've got 6 pairs (Bummis, BlueBerry, AntsyPants, and 3 etsy purchases) almost ready to go, and 4 more pairs (2 different Snap-Ez, Happy Heinys, and another etsy purchase) that just arrived in the mail.

Here's the ground rules for these reviews:

We're just starting our potty learning journey, so I really want waterproof trainers. A month into fairly consistent reminders, we're down to about 4 wet diapers/trainers a day, but that's still a lot of messes to clean.

Also, because we're so early with this, I expect to have to clean poop out of trainers (and true, it's been about one a day all month).

Our goal is something Acorn can take on and off himself. Easy on/off is important.

I'm looking at absorbency and drying time, because these things make a difference.

Finally, at this point I've bought and paid for all of these myself. If there are folks out there interested in me doing more testing and reviews, I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Trusting your child's caregivers

Some days, being "normal" feels harder than the crazy special needs life we lead.

Today I put Acorn and our brand new nurse (she oriented with our primary nurse last week, today was her first actual day of work) on the bus, less than an hour after she arrived.

It's the first time we've ever left a new nurse with Acorn for any length of time on their first day.

If he were a kid without medical complications, he'd've been in a daycare center. We'd've interviewed them, visited, investigated....and left him with them, probably without another thought.

It's hard to trust caregivers though, when you've got a kid like Acorn. It's been a year since the last time he quit breathing and turned blue....but if it happens, will the person with him know what to do? What if his trach comes out? His g-tube button? What if he vomits and gets it in his trach?

It's not like we have that many people we can trust with his care either - we've never left him with grandparents or anyone else in the family; they are unwilling to learn his care. We have, at this point, 3 day shift nurses and 3 night shift nurses - and this new day shift nurse is still up for discussion. We have one family friend who's watched Acorn a few times.

One of these days, the trach won't be an issue.

But leaving him at preschool? Putting him on the school bus all by himself?

I'm thinking I'll never get the hang of that.